Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum

Event Information: Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum, November 3, Shepherdstown, WV

Earlier this month, much of the ALLARMie team drove down to Shepherdstown, West Virginia to both attend and run a workshop at the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum, a gathering of individuals and groups interested in the health of our watershed. This was my first time attending this annual forum and I was super excited to see what it had in store.

Within minutes of arriving, I attended the first of two meetings (there were so many interesting topics that it was hard to choose to which to go!) about the sheer amount of plastic and trash that enters the ocean through dumping, stormwater and the tides and the relative amount of time different items will take to decompose – some materials, like glass, never! The second was from the perspective of farmers and their efforts to keep soil healthy in order to maximize the absorbance of rainwater, and to minimize the amount of erosion and runoff that would ultimately pollute nearby streams – a win-win situation as increased soil health means increased crop yield.

Before long, it was time for ALLARM to hold our “Field Experience,” Water Quality Monitoring 101. I volunteered to help and became part of the Macroinvertebrate team where it was my job to work with those who attended to identify certain macros by key physical features, like gills or number of tails. The purpose of this portion of the workshop was to help volunteers understand that while water testing is important, it can only give you a glimpse into the current health of a stream. The species diversity and amount of macroinvertebrates in a stream can give a more long term view on the health of the water as some species are much more sensitive to pollution and may be absent if there has been an abundance of nutrients or pollutants in the past. After identifying a few samples under microscopes, the attendees then used a tally sheet to determine what the health of the stream would be had they found the macros they identified. Everyone who attended was super engaged in the topic and I really enjoyed listening to their own stories about macro findings and stream testing, and even learned more about macros with people who worked with them in the past. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad I had the chance to attend.

For anyone interested in a fantastic macroinvertebrate resource, check out this website to get up close (really, really close) and personal with some commonly found macros:

 Session participants identify macros